I spend a lot of time trying to be funny for strangers. It’s an addiction. However, I still have more fun in small groups of people, the way most people enjoy themselves. Though a truth about comedy is that just because someone makes their friends laugh, doesn’t mean they’re funny to the outside world. People need to work to get good at being funny in front of strangers. The main reason this true is that a group of friends will have similar ways of thinking so just playing within that realm will garner laughs. In high school (and I guess even now) I would quote The Simpsons to no end to make my friends laugh. Would that work well in stand-up act or an improv scene? No, not if I’m just reciting lines from a TV show, and it would be joke theft if I tried to make them my own.
Despite that, one of the big reasons I thought I could make it in comedy is that I believed if I make my friends laugh then I could make strangers laugh.
Something I’ve done for a long time with friends, and something I’ve since realized is a great skill in comedy, is commit (and commit hard) to things I think are funny. In fact, I’ve spent my whole life committing too much to jokes. Now I’m doing comedy and it’s finally appreciated! In the past, it’s made me a lot of enemies and I think it’s because a lot of the time people don’t know I’m joking.
One of my idols in comedy is Scott Aukerman (of Comedy Bang Bang: The Podcast and TV show). I heard a story once about how he went to the movie theater to see a Twilight movie dressed as a vampire, wearing fake teeth and a cape. Obviously this kind of vampire is not in the Twilight movies but he sat in the theater dressed like that to keep the joke going for the most enjoyment. After the movie finished, he supposedly stood up, turned to the audience, and said, “Fangs for coming!” This is a perfect bit. I wasn’t there but I can imagine if anyone in the lobby asked him what he was doing, he would just answer very earnestly that he’s dressing up as a vampire because vampires are in Twilight. Not acknowledging the obvious flaw in this situation is a character choice. A commitment to a funny idea.
Scott Aukerman is an improviser and improvisers are generally pretty good at committing to ideas. It’s an axiom of that world and I love it.
Here is the first user submitted photo for me to mock, sent in by Laura Miner:
Beanie Babies were a strange fad. I think any fad that is meant for children